First of all, a hearty thanks to the Rockets for nudging one of my predictions toward legitimacy with their win last night. I still expect the Dubs to take this one the distance, but Houston prevailing in a close Game 7 remains my call.
It’s been going on a couple of months since I started up SportsAttic, so I thought this might be an opportune time to address some of the comments and feedback you’ve been kind enough to provide me. Since the reality is that there are only a handful of comments, I figured I’d mix in a few top of mind observations of my own to balance things out.
*The Mets recent signing of Jose Bautista brings to mind their cursed history of signing power, right-handed bats way past their prime. I can’t decide whether Bautista reminds me more of George Foster at the end or Ellis Valentine (we traded Jeff Reardon for him! Arrgghh…) from Day 1. Either way, it’s an unpleasant vision and I don’t see Bautista making it past the Fourth of July as a Met. Is there such a thing as a Georgellis Fostentine?
*Rich B. in North Jersey reminded me of two WWWF greats of the past, when he brought up that the champion that emerged from the scrum of challengers to succeed Bruno Sammartino as champion was Bob Backlund. And bonus for his pulling deep from the well one of the great names in WWWF history — S.D. (Special Delivery) Jones, Rich’s personal fave back in the day. Those deep, semi-obscure pulls are always the best pulls.
*And Ron R. from D.C. expressed mild disappointment over my “dissing” of Max Scherzer in favor of Justin Verlander when reviewing the top right-handed starters of the past several years. I agree that was a super tough call, but as good as Mad Max is, take a look at Verlander’s 2018 so far — the guy is only 6-2 with a 1.08 ERA. How the heck has he even lost those two games this year? And even more inexplicable to me is how the Tigers didn’t win a World Series with both of those guys at the top of their rotation and Miggy Cabrera anchoring a strong lineup — all during their prime? Just don’t get it. We’ll give Scherzer 1-A on the list, but I stand by Verlander at the top.
*On the topic of current hardball events, it is great seeing Mike Brantley raking again. He’s hitting .330 and tracking for 100+ RBI’s even with the Indians continuing to scuffle around .500. I still don’t see how the Tribe doesn’t win at least 95 in that awful AL Central, but they better get rolling soon, and it appears that roster may need some help.
*Speaking of getting help, are the Dodgers mailing in 2018 already? Maybe they think they can rest on their laurels in 2018, get everyone healthy and go for it again next year? Do they really think they can take a year off because of the success the franchise has had in recent years, and that L.A. fans will be cool with that? I sure hope not, as that division seems up for grabs and there still seems like the most talent at Chavez Ravine.
*Dennis the Dodgers fan up in Eugene, OR recently pointed out to me via text that his boys are only 5 1/2 out. We must remind Dennis that currently that earns them 4th place in the mediocre NL West, and that the Giants are getting Bumgarner back soon. Can the Giants, flush with over the hill talent, actually be contenders in that division this year? I don’t think so — even finishing .500 still seems like an enormous stretch to me. Look for everyone who wears that intertwined SF except Madison (and Posey — they can’t ever trade Buster) being available come July.
*Dennis also pointed out a relevant example I neglected to include in my post from the other day on the dearth of present day Heavyweights. I stated that many of today’s potential heavyweights are off playing in the NFL and Dennis reminded me that not just “many” have chosen that route, but specifically one, Ken Norton, Jr., passed on the chance to follow in his dad’s footsteps in the ring, opting instead for an NFL career putting hits on running backs instead. Find me an interesting heavyweight — please!
*One of the more surprising starts in baseball this year is the Mariners out of the gates at 29-20. No way they keep it up with Robby (friend of Melky, A-Rod and Biogenesis) Cano on the suspension list. I’m totally writing them off and throwing my hat in the ring for the Angels bandwagon in the AL West. That lineup (Trout, Ohtani, Pujols) and story lines (Ohtani again) are just so cool (at least there’s one interesting baseball currently in Southern California), but they need to move now on pitching.
*I see two left-handers that should be on the market now or in the near future. Sean Manaea of the A’s and Blake Snell of the Rays. Teams with postseason aspirations should not sleep on these guys until the July trade deadline. I’m a huge buyer of Snell but more cautious on Manaea. I know Manaea threw the no-no at the Sawx this year, but to me he’s average at best, and yes a lefty, so once the A’s fall out of it someone will overpay for him — just warning the Angels not to bite. Go after Snell now. He’s somehow 5-3 with 3.07 ERA for a putrid Rays team, and his stuff is Number 2 Starter good, especially for a team desperate for starting pitching like the Halos.
*And another warning to all the other buyers out there — don’t go after Matt Harvey. I applaud the Reds heartily for what they are currently doing with the Opaque Knight. It totally has the feel of a Private Equity firm buying a broken company, fixing it up with short-term corporate bandaids in hopes of finding a flush with cash buyer that will overpay big-time without looking too carefully under the hood (did I mix enough metaphors there?). Harvey, Manaea and Snell will all be wearing different jerseys by the 1st of August (and Cole Hamels, too — anywhere but the Bronx, please.), and I look for Snell to return big results this year and down the road for whoever lands him, while Manaea disappoints (hopefully in pinstripes) and Harvey totally shits the bed (yes, I’m still pissed about throwing money away on his first Reds start while in Vegas a couple of weeks ago).
*From Monica D. in Cannes came this addition to the Sweet Sounds of Sports post — the crack and hiss of a new can of tennis balls being opened. That’s my girl — thanks SportsDaughterBTC (Behind The Camera)! There’s also a SportsDaughterFTC (Front of The Camera), but she’s not a follower (yet, I’m working on it).
*And for Jeanne M. in South Jersey (for those of you with no New Jersey reference point, North Jersey and South Jersey are absolutely different states, kind of like the Dakotas), I applaud your honesty in admitting you are a LeBron fan, but stick to football. You remain one of the more knowledgeable New York Football Giants fans I know to this day, and I am particularly proud that you haven’t let all those Eagles fans dim your enthusiasm over the years. But a LeBron fan? In a Philly market? Hmmmm.
*We are fast approaching the “Times 3” baseball stat projection milepost of the season. This is the last meaningful stat marker prior to midyear, and a good one, given we now have a real sample size to work with. Multiplying statistics “Times 3” at the 54-game mark will highlight trends, many of which are totally unsustainable. Like Kevin Pillar on track for 55 doubles, or Ozzie Albies annualized at 42 HR’s, or Charlie Morton on track to go 21-0 this year. Have at it stat-heads, we are almost there. Yup, I’ve got way too much time on my hands when on airplanes (or trains as was the case this morning).
*Don G. in Central Jersey (not a state, similar to Central Dakota) adds Giancarlo Stanton to those current MLB stars heading for Hall of Fame numbers. Since Don is a diehard Mets fan raised of good blue and orange stock I won’t hold this one against him, but also won’t dignify with a response. I’ll simply go on record saying that I am hoping Stanton’s statistical trajectory over the next few years resembles the end of Don Mattingly’s career (and yes, I am also rooting for Giancarlo to lead the Junior Circuit in strikeouts this year).
*And thank you Ernie H. from D.C. (are you still in D.C. Ernie, or have you fled south for year-round golf?) for forwarding me an article from the Boston Globe by Dan Shaughnessy. This article smacked so epically of “homer-ism” that I was nearly apoplectic by the time I finished reading it. If I was better with technology I’d provide a link here, but Dan Shaughnessy and his shameless shamrock-waving prose doesn’t warrant such inclusion. Suffice it to say that Shaughnessy channels his inner Red Auerbach (guy’s been dead how long now and I still despise him?) in a poorly disguised rah-rah homage to Ainge, Stevens and all things 2018 Celtics. As I replied to Ernie, it almost made me root for LeBron to pull this thing out in 7. Almost. My call of Celts advancing at home in 7 stands, though.
*While on the topic of the NBA, did anyone else notice that Swaggy P got in last night’s game for a grand total of one minute? And yes, apparently that was one minute too many for Steve Kerr and the Warriors. In fact, it was just enough to pollute the Dubs outcome and place the champs’ backs firmly against the wall. Betting Mr. Young doesn’t see the floor at all in Game 6 (unless it’s a blowout — Swaggy P lives for meaningless points in blowouts), and definitely rides pine for 48 in Game 7. Careful, Mr. Kerr, careful. He’s a poison…